Great Granny Webster

Great Granny Webster

by Caroline Blackwood, Honor Moore

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Great Granny Webster is Caroline Blackwood’s masterpiece. Heiress to the Guinness fortune, Blackwood was celebrated as a great beauty and dazzling raconteur long before she made her name as a strikingly original writer. This macabre, mordantly funny, partly auto-biographical novel reveals the gothic craziness behind the scenes in the great houses of the aristocracy, as witnessed through the unsparing eyes of an orphaned teenage girl. Great Granny Webster herself is a fabulous monster, the chilliest of matriarchs, presiding with steely self-regard over a landscape of ruined lives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590175385
Publisher: New York Review Books
Publication date: 04/18/2012
Series: NYRB Classics Series
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 128
File size: 220 KB

About the Author

Caroline Blackwood (1931-1996) was born into a rich Anglo-Irish aristocratic family. She rebelled against her background at an early age and led a hectic and bohemian life, which included marriages to the painter Lucian Freud, the pianist and composer Israel Citkowitz, and the poet Robert Lowell. In the 1970s Blackwood began to write. Among her books are several novels, including Great Granny Webster and Corrigan (both available as NYRB Classics); On the Perimeter, an account of the women’s anti-nuclear protest at Greenham Common; and The Last of the Duchess, about the old age of the Duchess of Windsor.

Honor Moore’s collections of poems are Red Shoes, Darling, and Memoir. She edited Amy Lowell: Selected Poems for the Library of America and is author of The White Blackbird, a life of her grandmother, the painter Margarett Sargent.

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Great Granny Webster 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Kasthu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What an odd novel.Caroline Blackwood was an heiress to the Guinness family fortune, a 1950s socialite, and, at one time married to the poet Robert Lowell. Great Granny Webster is a semi-autobiographical novel. In it, the narrator tells the story of several generations of her family: her Scottish Great Granny Webster, who lives in a mildewed cottage in Hove; her grandmother¿s descent into madness; unstable, freewheeling Aunt Lavinia; and the narrator¿s father, who died during WWII.Our unnamed narrator is not so much a well-rounded character as she is an observer of her family history. At the heart of it all is the family seat, Dunmartin Hall, a dilapidated pile of stone in Scotland. The novel is full of dysfunctional characters, and the only one of them that seems to have it all together is the family matriarch. As I was reading this, I kept picturing Great Granny Webster in Victorian mourning (although the book is set in the years after WWII). But one can imagine that nothing in Great Granny Webster¿s house has changed in fifty years; she¿s even had the same maid for four decades.Contrasting with Great Granny Webster is the narrator¿s unstable Aunt Lavinia, a woman with multiple divorces and a penchant for partying and alcohol (maybe an autobiographical portrait?). Saddest of all the family members that appear in this novel is the narrator¿s grandmother, a woman forced into a marriage she doesn¿t want, who eventually ends up mad. Because this is a character-driven novel, there¿s not much of a plot. I really enjoyed this novel, despite the oddity of the characters (right down to the butler and footmen who serve at table wearing Wellingtons). Even Dunmartin Hall is a character unto itself, reflecting the crumbling nature of this dysfunctional family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago